Ghaznavids: Wikis


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Ghaznavid Empire


Ghaznavid Empire at its greatest extent
Capital Ghazni (until 1151)
Lahore (from 1151)
Language(s) Persian language
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Empire
 - 963-977 Alptigin
 - 1160-1187 Khusrau Malik
Historical era Medieval
 - Established 963
 - Disestablished 1187
 - 1029 est. 3,400,000 km2 (1,312,747 sq mi)
Faravahar background
History of Greater Iran
| until the rise of modern nation-states |
See also
Kings of Persia
History of Afghanistan
Emblem of Afghanistan
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The Ghaznavids (Persian: غزنویان) were a Persianate[2][3][4] Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin[5] which existed from 975 to 1187 and ruled much of Persia, Transoxania, and the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.[6][7][8] The Ghaznavid state was centered in Ghazni, a city in present Afghanistan. Due to the political and cultural influence of their predecessors - that of the Persian Samanid Empire - the originally Turkic Ghaznavids became thoroughly Persianized.[6][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

The dynasty was founded by Sebuktigin upon his succession to rule of territories centered around the city of Ghazni from his father-in-law, Alp Tigin, a break-away ex-general of the Samanid sultans.[15] Sebuktigin's son, Shah Mahmoud, expanded the empire in the region that stretched from the Oxus river to the Indus Valley and the Indian Ocean; and in the west it reached Rayy and Hamadan. Under the reign of Mas'ud I it experienced major territorial losses. It lost its western territories to the Seljuqs in the Battle of Dandanaqan resulting in a restriction of its holdings to Afghanistan, Balochistan and the Punjab. In 1151, Sultan Bahram Shah lost Ghazni to Ala'uddin Hussain of Ghor and the capital was moved to Lahore until its subsequent capture by the Ghurids in 1186.


Rise to power

Two military families arose from the Turkic Slave-Guards of the Samanids — the Simjurids and Ghaznavids — who ultimately proved disastrous to the Samanids. The Simjurids received an appanage in the Kohistan region of eastern Khorasan. Alp Tigin founded the Ghaznavid fortunes when he established himself at Ghazna (modern Ghazni, Afghanistan) in 962. He and Abu al-Hasan Simjuri, as Samanid generals, competed with each other for the governorship of Khorasan and control of the Samanid empire by placing on the throne emirs they could dominate when 'Abd al-Malik I died in 961. But when the Samanid Emir 'Abd al-Malik I died in 961 CE it created a succession crisis between 'Abd al-Malik I's brothers. A court party instigated by men of the scribal class—civilian ministers as contrasted with Turkic generals—rejected Alp Tigin's candidate for the Samanid throne. Mansur I was installed, and Alp Tigin prudently retired to his fief of Ghazna. The Simjurids enjoyed control of Khorasan south of the Oxus but were hard-pressed by a third great Iranian dynasty, the Buwayhids, and were unable to survive the collapse of the Samanids and the rise of the Ghaznavids.

The struggles of the Turkic slave generals for mastery of the throne with the help of shifting allegiance from the court's ministerial leaders both demonstrated and accelerated the Samanid decline. Samanid weakness attracted into Transoxania the Qarluq Turks, who had recently converted to Islam. They occupied Bukhara in 992 to establish in Transoxania the Qarakhanid, or Ilek Khanid, dynasty. Alp Tigin had been succeeded at Ghazna by Sebüktigin (died 997). Sebüktigin's son Mahmud made an agreement with the Qarakhanids whereby the Oxus was recognized as their mutual boundary.


Saboktekin made himself lord of nearly all the present territory of Afghanistan and of the Punjab by conquest of Samanid and Shahi lands. In 997, Mahmud, the son of Sebük Tigin, succeeded his father upon his death, and with him Ghazni and the Ghaznavid dynasty have become perpetually associated. He completed the conquest of Samanid, Shahi lands, the Ismaili Kingdom of Multan, Sindh as well as some Buwayhid territory. Under him all accounts was the golden age and the height of the Ghaznevid Empire. Mahmud carried out seventeen expeditions through northern India establishing his control and setting up tributary states. His raids also resulted in the looting of a great deal of plunder. From the borders of Kurdistan to Samarkand, from the Caspian Sea to the Yamuna, he established his authority.

The wealth brought back from the Indian expeditions to Ghazni was enormous, and contemporary historians (e.g. Abolfazl Beyhaghi, Ferdowsi) give glowing descriptions of the magnificence of the capital, as well as of the conquerors munificent support of literature. Mahmud died in (1030). Even though there was some revival of importance under Ibrahim (1059–1099), the empire never reached anything like the same splendor and power. It was soon overshadowed by the Seljuqs of Iran.


Coinage of Mas'ud I of Ghazni, derived from Shahi designs, with the name of Mas'ud in Arabic.

Mahmud's son Mas'ud was unable to preserve the empire and following a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Dandanaqan in (1040) lost all the Ghaznavid lands in Iran and Central Asia to the Seljuks and plunged the realm into a "Time of troubles".[15][16] Mas'ud's son Ibrahim who re-established a truncated empire on a firmer basis by arriving at a peace agreement with the Seljuks and a restoration of cultural and political linkages.[16] Under Ibrahim and his successors saw a period of sustained tranquility for the empire. Shorn of its western land it was increasingly sustained by riches accrued from raids across Northern India where it faced stiff resistance from Rajput rulers such as the Paramara of Malwa and the Gahadvala of Kannauj.[16] Signs of weakness in the state became apparent when Masud III died in 1115 with internal strife between his sons ending with the ascension of Sultan Bahram Shah as a Seljuk Vassal.[16] Sultan Bahram Shah, was the last Ghaznavid King ruling Ghazni, the first and main Ghaznavid capital. Ala'uddin Hussain, a Ghorid King, conquered the city of Ghazni in 1151, for the revenge of his brother's death. He razed all the city, and burned it for 7 days, after which he got famous as "Jahānsoz" (World Burner). Ghazni was restored to the Ghaznavids by the intervention of the Seljuks who came to Behrams aid.[16] Ghaznavid struggles with the Ghurids continued in the subsequent years as they nibbled away at Ghaznavid territory and Ghazni and Zabulistan was lost a group of Oghuz Turks before captured by the Gurids.[16] Ghaznavid power in northern India continued until the conquest of Lahore from Khusrau Malik in 1186.[16]


Ghaznavid era art: Free-blown, wheel-cut carafes. First half of 11th century. Excavated at Teppe Madraseh, Nishapur, Iran. New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Ghaznavid empire grew to cover much of present-day Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India, and the Ghaznavids are generally credited with launching Islam into Hindu-dominated India. In addition to the wealth accumulated through raiding Indian cities, and exacting tribute from Indian Rajas the Ghaznavids also benefited from their position as an intermediary along the trade routes between China and the Mediterranean. They were however unable to hold power for long and by 1040 the Seljuks had taken over their Persian domains and a century later the Ghurids took over their remaining sub-continental lands.


Although the Ghaznavids were of Turkic origin and their military leaders were generally of the same stock, as a result of the original involvement of Sebuktigin and Mahmud in Samanid affairs and in the Samanid cultural environment, the dynasty became thoroughly Persianized, so that in practice one cannot consider their rule over Iran one of foreign domination. In terms of cultural championship and the support of Persian poets, they were far more Persian than the ethnically Iranian Buyids rivals, whose support of Arabic letters in preference to Persian is well known.[17]

In fact with the adoption of Persian administrative and cultural ways the Ghaznavids threw off their original Turkish steppe background and became largely integrated with the Perso-Islamic tradition.[18]

The Ghaznavid Dynasty

  • Alptigin (963-977)
  • Sebük Tigin, (Abu Mansur) (977-997)
  • Ismail (997-998)
  • Mahmud (Yamin ud-Dawlah ) (998-1030)
  • Mohammed (Jalal ud-Dawlah) (1030–1031)
  • Mas'ud I (Shihab ud-Dawlah) (1031–1041)
  • Mohammed (Jalal ud-Dawlah (second time) (1041)
  • Maw'dud (Shihab ud-Dawlah) (1041–1050)
  • Mas'ud II (1050)
  • Ali (Baha ud-Dawlah) (1050)
  • Abd ul-Rashid (Izz ud-Dawlah) (1053)
  • Toğrül (Tughril) (Qiwam ud-Dawlah) (1053)
  • Farrukhzad (Jamal ud-Dawlah) (1053–1059)
  • Ibrahim (Zahir ud-Dalah) (1059–1099)
  • Mas'ud III (Ala ud-Dawlah) (1099–1115)
  • Shirzad (Kemal ud-Dawlah) (1115)
  • Arslan Shah (Sultan ud-Dawlah) (1115–1118)
  • Bahram Shah (Yamin ud-Dawlah ) (1118–1152)
  • Khusrau Shah (Mu'izz ud-Dawlah) (1152–1160)
  • Khusrau Malik (Taj ud-Dawlah) (1160–1187)

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ J. Meri (Hg.), Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, "Ghaznavids", London u.a. 2006, p. 294: "... The Ghaznavids inherited Samanid administrative, political, and cultural traditions and laid the foundations for a Persianate state in northern India. ..."
  3. ^ Newman, John, The Linguistics of Eating and Drinking, (John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2009), 155.The Persianate culture was carried by succeeding dynasties into Western and Southern Asian, in the Ghaznavids..
  4. ^ Meisami, Julie Scott, Persian historiography to the end of the twelfth century, (Edinburgh University Press, 1999), 143.Nizam al-Mulk also attempted to organise the Saljuq administration according to the Persianate Ghaznavid model..
  5. ^ "Ghaznavid Dynasty" Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ a b C.E. Bosworth: The Ghaznavids. Edinburgh, 1963
  7. ^ C.E. Bosworth, "Ghaznavids" in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition 2006
  8. ^ a b C.E. Bosworth, "Ghaznavids", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition; Brill, Leiden; 2006/2007
  9. ^ M.A. Amir-Moezzi, "Shahrbanu", Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition: "... here one might bear in mind that non-Persian dynasties such as the Ghaznavids, Saljuqs and Ilkhanids were rapidly to adopt the Persian language and have their origins traced back to the ancient kings of Persia rather than to Turkish heroes or Muslim saints ..."
  10. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica, Iran: Islamic Period - Ghaznavids, E. Yarshater
  11. ^ B. Spuler, "The Disintegration of the Caliphate in the East", in the Cambridge History of Islam, Vol. IA: The Central islamic Lands from Pre-Islamic Times to the First World War, ed. by P.M. Holt, Ann K.S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970). pg 147: One of the effects of the renaissance of the Persian spirit evoked by this work was that the Ghaznavids were also Persianized and thereby became a Persian dynasty.
  12. ^ Anatoly M Khazanov, André Wink, "Nomads in the Sedentary World", Routledge, 2padhte padhte to pagla jayega aadmi, A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Blackwell Publishing, 1998. pg 370: "Though Turkic in origin and, apparently in speech, Alp Tegin, Sebuk Tegin and Mahmud were all thoroughly Persianized"
  13. ^ Robert L. Canfield, Turko-Persia in historical perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1991. pg 8: "The Ghaznavids (989-1149) were essentially Persianized Turks who in manner of the pre-Islamic Persians encouraged the development of high culture"
  14. ^ John Perry. Iran & the Caucasus, Vol. 5, (2001), pp. 193-200. THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF TURKISH IN RELATION TO PERSIAN OF IRAN. Excerpt: "We should distinguish two complementary ways in which the advent of the Turks affected the language map of Iran. First, since the Turkish-speaking rulers of most Iranian polities from the Ghaznavids and Seljuks onward were already iranized and patronized Persian literature in their domains, the expansion of Turk-ruled empires served to expand the territorial domain of written Persian into the conquered areas, notably Anatolia and Central and South Asia. Secondly, the influx of massive Turkish-speaking populations (culminating with the rank and file of the Mongol armies) and their settlement in large areas of Iran (particularly in Azerbaijan and the northwest), progressively turkicized local speakers of Persian, Kurdish and other Iranian languages."(John Perry. Iran & the Caucasus, Vol. 5, (2001), pp. 193-200. THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF TURKISH IN RELATION TO PERSIAN OF IRAN)
  15. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica, "Ghaznavid Dynasty", Online Edition 2007
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Encyclopedia Iranica, "Ghaznavids", Edmund Bosworth, Online Edition 2007
  17. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, Iran, EHSAN YARSHATER, Online Edition 2008, ([1])
  18. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth, The new Islamic dynasties: a chronological and genealogical manual, Edition: 2, Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2004, ISBN 0748621377, p. 297

Further reading

External links



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